DPS would pay $30M for west side of Johnson & Wales University campus

The buildings on the campus that Denver Public Schools would buy are, clockwise from top left, Aspen Hall, Whatley Chapel, Wildcat Center and Academic Center. (Thomas Gounley photos)

Terms of the deal that would let Denver Public Schools take over a portion of the soon-to-close Johnson & Wales University campus in South Park Hill have become public.

The school system would pay $30 million to the nonprofit Urban Land Conservancy for the western portion of the campus, which has four buildings on it, according to a presentation prepared for the system’s Board of Education.

The board still needs to sign off on the proposed deal. A vote is expected May 20.

The four buildings that DPS would buy are:

  • Wildcat Center, at 7050 Montview Blvd., which includes a gymnasium and dining hall;
  • Academic Center, at 1900 Olive St., a large structure that includes classrooms, an auditorium, the campus library and other things;
  • Aspen Hall, at 7039 E. 18th St., an academic building;
  • Whatley Chapel, at 1800 Pontiac St.

In addition to the initial sum, DPS estimates that it would spend $5 million to $10 million to renovate the buildings, according to the presentation.

As BusinessDen reported last week, DPS wants to use the acquisition to expand Denver School of the Arts, a magnet school for sixth to 12th graders that is located across the street from the Johnson & Wales campus.

The school’s current enrollment is 1,100, and it has exceeded its intended 900-student capacity since 2003. Some 500 applicants are turned away annually, and DPS says the acquisition could allow the school to add between 600 and 800 students.

Providence, Rhode Island-based Johnson & Wales announced last June that it would close its campuses in Denver and North Miami, Florida, in the summer of 2021.

The Denver-based Urban Land Conservancy is currently under contract to purchase the 25-acre Denver campus, which has 13 buildings on it.

Urban Land Conservancy has also agreed to sell a portion of the campus to the Denver Housing Authority, which would pay $9.5 million for some dorms and land where new residential buildings could be constructed.

Johnson & Wales paid about $30.5 million for the campus in two transactions in 1999 and 2003, records show.

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